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And Now Google Is Making Its Own 10-Gigabit Switches

[qi:051] Google, has been known to come up with its own technologies when dissatisfied with commercial and/or open source offerings. The company had previously started making its own server hardware. And now it seems the company engineers are building high-speed switches according to its own stringent specifications. It is part of company’s efforts to ensure that its services – search, advertising and everything else – are delivered to end users with minimum delay.

Andrew Schmitt reports that company has been buying up components that are going into some sort of a 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch. The system is based on Broadcom’s silicon, he reports. I had heard similar story about three months ago but failed to find any confirmation. My hats off to Andrew for his scoop. This dovetails with some information I have received that the company has been making a run at router geeks and raiding Cisco’s pantry so to speak.

Here are some highlights about Google’s 10 GigBE Switch:

  • It used Broadcom 20-port 10GE switch silicon (BCM56800) & SFP+ based interconnect.
  • Google is using non-standard solutions in order to build products specific to its needs.
  • Andrew estimates that Google might be using about 5,000 ports per month

I think this development merits further investigation about Force 10 Networks, which was one of the suppliers to Google, as I had previously reported. That company has raised a mountain of cash and was supposed to go public. I have heard that they recently lost out to Myricom, another 10 GigBE vendor to supply gear to Argonne Leadership Computing Facility (ALCF), a 445-teraflops Blue Gene/P super computer built by IBM and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory.

19 Responses to “And Now Google Is Making Its Own 10-Gigabit Switches”

  1. Chill people, Google is the 4th largest server manufacturer in the U.S. and it hasn’t hurt any of the server manufacturers. Servers just had their best quarter ever. If Google builds their own switches it means that switches will start having a great quarter. Google is just a proxy for what technology is critical for the next wave of cloud computing.

  2. The Dude Abides

    I would be curious to know if Google is also using the protocol stack and Network OS that Broadcom acquired when they purchased LVL7 Systems. I can’t imaging them trying to recreate the wheel.

  3. Cisco is in online software business (WebEx, Securent, etc.) while Google is getting into building routers. The world as we know it is falling apart.

    Or does this mean Apple with its I-build-everything approach was right all along and all these guys are just now realizing the value that can be created if you can design the entire system?

    Time will tell – but for now it must be really confusing for a Cisco networking guru, Apple phone guru, etc. to be getting phone calls from a search and ad company!

  4. Urs Holzle of Google, in a minor part of a presentation at one of their engineering open houses back in 2005, talked about how then current switch manufacturers weren’t making products appopriate to Google’s needs. That is, they were too general purpose and thus consumed too much power and space to scale well for Google. He mentioned the possibility of building custom switches in an off-handed, casual way, in the midst of alot of other topics. So this just feels like the other shoe dropping…